The Swiss ambassador to Nigeria, Dr. Hans-Rudolf Hodel, said the United States’ $700 million stashed in Swiss banks by the late military head of state General Sani Abacha has been returned to Nigeria.
Hodel added that Swiss and Nigerian governments have agreed to request the World Bank to participate in the review of the use of the funds on welfare projects.
“Regarding Sani Abacha, Switzerland has restituted and returned $700 million of illicit assets to Nigeria,” he said.
The ambassador said in addition to the return of the funds, Switzerland also funded a project of an NGO network that monitored the use of the recovered monies in the various development projects.
On the case against the late Abacha’s son Abba, Hodel said proceedings over support of a criminal organization were still pending in Geneva.
“There are special procedures to deal with foreign clients who are PEPs (politically-exposed persons),” he said. “Swiss banks must put clients into different risk categories. They might decide not to start business relationship with a PEP because of the reputation risk involved. Swiss banks are obliged by law to report well-founded suspicions of criminal activity and simultaneously freeze the assets in question.”
When asked on a recent report on Swiss traders involved in opaque $6.8 billion oil deals in Nigeria, the envoy said they have not received any formal request regarding that.
“I have no knowledge that we have been contacted by the authorities. In case they will start proceedings and they will need our help, of course with international legal cooperation we will help them if they approach us. But until now, they have not approached us,” he said.